A multidisciplinary team of researchers from the Know-How Centre for Alternative Care for Children with experience in direct field work and in research of the process of deinstitutionalization of child care - Borislava Mecheva, Valentina Bizheva, Galina Markova, Evgenia Toneva, Lyubomir Dzhalev, Christina Slavova and Yana Katsarova presented an evaluation of the outcome of the overall model of the work of Hope and Homes for Children - Bulgaria in the presence of experts from the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the Agency for Social Assistance, UNICEF, Childhood 2025 Coalition and the non-governmental sector. The presentation was positively evaluated by Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Bisser Petkov, who also attended the event.
Research work represents important feedback for the childcare system.
The total number of participants in the qualitative survey was 98, of which 40 were families. The objective of the research was to make a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the overall impact and effectiveness of implementation of the programs for prevention and reintegration of Hope and Homes for Children, which are worked on by the organization by applying an active family support model and a model for a coordination mechanism on a district level.
"Research, as a kind of feedback for the system, is extremely important."
Borislava Mecheva, researcher, psychologist and family therapist
The evaluation identifies the impact of prevention and reintegration programs on children and families, local communities and the child protection system through the Relevance, Efficiency, Benefits and Sustainability rubrics. The organization's contribution to the deinstitutionalization of childcare in Bulgaria is also evaluated. Responding questions are: Is the program consistent with national and local policy so as to respond to identified needs? What are the benefits and what is the impact for the target groups? How much can the program's elements be applied can and how long will their implementation continue?
The Executive Director of Hope and Homes for Children - Bulgaria, Georgi Simeonov, assessed the analysis of the study as an extremely useful and valuable resource for the further activity of the organization. Natalia Efremova, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Human Resources Development Operational Programme, also noted the key importance of this evaluation for the implementation of effective and adequate childcare policies and programmes.
We are witnessing a positive change in all areas of family and child welfare.
Quantitative data was gathered through a specialized assessment tool, which was suitable for the evaluation - the "Summary Form for Children Brought Up in a Family Environment" containing six sets of indicators for assessing children such as living conditions, family and social relationships, behavior, physical and mental health, education, employment and household.
"There is a visible positive change in all areas of the well-being of the family and the child."
Chief Assistant Lyubomir Dzhalev, PhD, New Bulgarian University
One of the key findings in the HHC model was that of the reported lower costs of prevention and reintegration compared to the child care costs associated with residential care. Daniela Ushatova, head of the Municipal Services and Finance team at the National Association of Municipalities, congratulated the research team on its work on financial indicators and expressed interest in more detailed information on specific existing social services.
"The model which HHC is using is useful for the CPD because they believe that a large number of families take good care of their children and want them. If they were given the necessary help to find a job for at least one of the parents, families would not leave their children."
Dr. Yana Katsarova, a psychologist and psychotherapist
We are noticing the construction of a different type of relationships
The conclusion of the presented evaluation is that the work of the HHC changes the medical model, which institutionalizes the care for children. In addition, HHC deplores the myth of the omnipotent state by showing how long-term relationships of concern and support for families can replace its anonymous marginalizating style and achieve the most important result - for children to grow up in families.
"All interviewees talk about changed attitudes, which is a guarantee of greater sustainability."
Galina Markova, Doctor of Social Work, NBU
"HHC successfully overcomes the barriers to the deinstitutionalisation of childcare with the role model which coordinators are implementing - building trust and attachment in each separate case."
Evgenia Toneva, Researcher, Know-How Center for the Alternative Care for Children, NBU
"One of the factors that affect efficiency is building relationships of partnership with and support for the specialists."
Valentina Bizheva, Researcher, Know-How Center for the Alternative Care for Children, NBU
The research team also noted some limitations during the evaluation, such as the extent to which the experiences, lived and learned, of all involved in the process were reflected as accessibility is limited and also that Bulgaria still lacks a uniform standardized tool for child development.